Addictive Personalities


An addictive personality refers to a particular set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to addictions. Addictions are characterized by a physical or psychological dependency that negatively impacts the quality of life of the person. They are frequently connected with substance abuse, but people with addictive personalities are also highly at risk of becoming addicted to other things in life, including work, religion, relationships as in co-dependency, being sick, sex, etc.

People engaged in addictive behavior tend to plan their lives around it  Addictive personality disorder may be defined as a psychological setback that makes a person more susceptible to addictions  Experts describe the spectrum of behaviors designated as addictive in terms of five interrelated concepts which include patterns, habits, compulsions, impulse control disorders, and physical addiction. An individual is considered to be at the risk of developing such addictions when he/she displays signs of impulsive behavior, nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society, a sense of social alienation. Such a person may switch from one addiction to another other or even sustain multiple addictions at different times.

Addiction has come to refer to a wide and complex range of behaviors. Compulsions differ from patterns and habits in that they originate for the purpose of relieving anxiety. Impulse control disorders constitute a specific type of compulsive behavior that provides short-term gratification but is harmful in the long run. In contrast to these various types of potentially addictive behavior, physical addiction involves dependence on a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological withdrawal symptoms.

They are very much sensitive to stress. They have trouble handling situations that they deem frustrating, even if the event is for a very short duration. They often lack self-esteem and will show impulsive behavior such as excessive caffeine consumption, eating of chocolates or other sugar laden foods, television watching, or even running.

Mood swings and antisocial behavior are other visible traits of people that suffer from addictive personality disorder. They may turn down invitations to social gatherings in order to alienate themselves from their respective societies. The main reason behind such behavior is that they are fearful of being caught with this disorder. The feeling of isolation will often have negative effects on the people facing the issue, and so to substitute for the lack of personal relationships, they turn towards drugs, smoking, alcohol consumption, or the like. They usually believe that such harmful substances serve as “quick-fix” solutions for their life’s problems.

People suffering from APD find it difficult to manage their stress levels. In fact, lack of stress tolerance is a telltale sign of the disorder. They find it difficult to face stressful situations and fight hard to get out of such conditions.

Long term goals prove difficult to achieve because people with APD usually focus on the stress that comes with getting through the short term goals. Such personalities will often switch to other enjoyable activities the moment that they are deprived of enjoyment in their previous addiction.

Addictive individuals feel highly insecure when it comes to relationships. They may often find it difficult to make commitments in relationships or trust their beloved because of the difficulty they find in achieving long term goals. They constantly seek approval of others and as a result, these misunderstandings may contribute to the destruction of relationships. People suffering from addictive personality disorder usually undergo depression and anxiety, managing their emotions by developing addiction to drugs, alcohol or other pleasurable activities that reward the pleasure centers in the brain.

People who engage in addictions tend to have certain attitudes and types of behavior in common. An addiction is generally associated with relieving anxiety or blocking out other types of uncomfortable feelings. The addiction makes them neglect other areas of their lives. They are commonly secretive about it, either out of shame or to protect their access to a substance. When confronted, they generally deny that they have a problem, although privately they regret their addictive behavior, which in many cases they have tried without success to discontinue. They tend to rationalize engaging in the behavior and tell themselves they can stop whenever they want. They may also blame others for their addiction and often experience frequent and uncontrollable mood swings

Substance Abuser: One who uses to enhance pleasure and/or compensate for something negative, such as physical or emotional pain, insecurity, fear, anger, etc.

 One who uses to celebrate, compensate, or for any other reason, legitimate or not. The addict experiences some or all of the following:

• Preoccupation with use of the chemical between periods of use.
• Using more of the chemical than had been anticipated.
•  Use of the chemical to avoid or control withdrawal symptoms.
•  Intoxication at inappropriate times (such as at work), or when withdrawal interferes with daily functioning (such as when hangover makes person too sick to go to work).
• A reduction in social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of further substance use.
• Continued substance use in spite of the individual having suffered social, emotional, or physical problems related to drug use.

Reliable symptoms of addictive disease become more evident as follows:

Negative consequences are recycled yet there is continued use
Limit setting & promises to self or others are broken;
Will do almost anything to obtain the substance or engage in the behavior.
Complaints are denied and/or not heard;
Loss of control, as in more use than planned (broken limits);
Compulsivity/preoccupation in thinking;
Denial; Use of defences to maintain denial;
Remorse & guilt about use or behavior when using;
Unpredictability, as in use despite plan not to use (broken promises);
Reliable symptoms of addictive disease become more evident
Build up of (or “break” in) tolerance;
Memory loss, mental confusion, irrational thinking;
Family history of addictive behavior;
Withdrawal discomfort (physical, mental, emotional, and/or psychological).

Since these experiences are more psychological and spiritual than physical, they apply whether the addiction is to alcohol or other drugs.

Alcohol and drugs help men suppress feelings they are worthless and undeserving. These horrible feelings usually emanate from unresolved trauma, sometimes going back to childhood. This is sad, because all unresolved trauma is treatable even after years have passed. Most of the other themes below also have traumatic origins.

Drinking and drugging help men avoid facing a profound lack self-respect. The silver lining is that if they had acknowledged how little respect they had for themselves, say 10 years earlier, they might have suicided or died through other reckless action. Many have.

Many alcoholic and drug-addicted men carry a lot of anger, and along with the anger they often have a fear they will become violent and hurt someone. Drugging calms them, at least temporarily. The problem is it eventually becomes an addiction. In my experience healing the origins of anger trumps managing anger every time which is effectively done in a few sessions with Restructuring Therapy.

Often by the time men seek rehab they are mired in feelings of hopelessness about their addiction, about their marriages, about their careers, about life or about all of these. Yes they may project an image of bravado and self-confidence, but underneath there is a loss of hope. They go to rehab as their last hope.

1. Men who have turned to alcohol or drugs often carry a great deal of shame about not being able to make their wives happy or otherwise care for them. Of course, each of us has responsibility for our own happiness, but that does not stop men from subconsciously taking on that responsibility. This is a peculiarly male burden.

2. Men may come to terms with their addiction at any time of life, but middle age is prime time. It is in middle age that we all find ourselves facing up to the big questions about the meaning of life and the meaning and purpose of our own lives in particular. Alcohol or drugs may cover a man’s inadequacy to face the big questions. Unfortunately, it may be the failure of a second marriage or the death of a child that pushes him to clean up so he can tackle life’s big questions and begin to create a meaningful and purposeful second half of life.

3. Finally, alcohol and drug usage foster isolation. They help people deny their connections to one another, to the universe, to God, to their higher powers, to their true selves. In other words substance abuse is a spiritual blocker. Recovery from an addiction is often accompanied by an awakening of their spirituality.

Addiction is a primary, progressive, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over use of the substance, preoccupation with the substance, use of the substance despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking [cognitive distortions and magical thinking]




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